The importance of biography

Spring break is rapidly approaching and UW students are gettin’ ready to head for the hills. Some of us have cleared our last few academic hurdles, earning the right to enjoy 8 days of R&R or, in my case, coffee and I-90.

But wait! There’s still some cinematic activity on campus that you might want to consider checking out before you depart for Cancun or Daytona or wherever. (Just try not to go home—there’s no there there.)

On Thursday night at 7:30 the Cinematheque is hosting a talk with Joseph McBride, author of several biographies of canonical filmmakers (Steven Spielberg, Howard Hawks, Frank Capra, Orson Welles), the most pertinent of which is 2001’s Searching for John Ford. Here’s a link to Jonathan Rosenbaum’s rave review, which I seriously recommend reading.

According to the Cinematheque’s website, McBride is going to lecture “about the ways biographical research can inform our understanding of films”; his discourse will lead into the Cinematheque’s screening of Ford’s final film, “7 Women” (1966), on Friday night at 7:30. For us armchair film historians, this is something of a big deal. It’s a crying shame that so many of us will be on the road and unable to take advantage of such a rare opportunity (“7 Women” is currently unavailable on DVD).

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